Whether you’ve made a commitment to run 3 miles every morning before work or you’re committed to diligently counting your calories to drop 10 pounds, making a New Year’s Resolution is easy, but sticking to it can prove to be quite challenging. As January draws to a close, motivation often wanes. So how can you stick to your New Year’s resolutions beyond January? Take a look at the following tips and tricks.
Write down your goals. Research shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to follow through on them. “Your will matters most the moment you make a resolution—and you’ll want to be able to recapture the intensity of that moment again and again,” explains Marvin D. Seppala, M.D., of Hazelden. So break out that pen and paper.
Make one change at a time. You might be tempted to try and lose 10 pounds, go to the gym every morning at 6am, commit to cooking dinner every night, and pledging to read a book a week, but that just isn’t realistic. To maximizes your chances of success and ensure that you actually stick with your resolution beyond January, your best bet is to make one change at a time. Remember, resolutions require behavioral changes. “Thinking through these sub strategies boosts success rates,” says Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Guelph. “But it would take too much attention and vigilance to do all that and also decide it’s time to brush your teeth for the full two minutes and become better informed about world events.”
Remember, self-control is like a muscle. Self-control isn’t just some magical power that some of us have and some of us don’t. Self-control is basically like a muscle, meaning the more you use it, the better it gets. At the University of Albany, researchers asked a group of smokers who wanted to kick the habit to try and exert extra self-control for the two weeks prior to quitting by either giving up sweets or by squeezing on a grip strengthener for as long as they could twice a day. The study showed that 27 percent of smokers who took these self-control exercises seriously were able to successfully quit, compared with just 12 percent of those who didn’t take the exercises seriously. So what is the takeaway here? The more diligent you are about your New Year’s resolutions, the easier it will become over time. What might seem hard in January will be routine by June.